Wednesday, April 30

A Letter to Polly

From: Todd E. Lickspittle
HMS Acasta,
At sea.

To: Mrs. Polly Lickspittle,
Care of
Captain Ernest Brine,
Gundeck Manor,

April 16, 1814.

My Dear Polly,

I have thought naught of any but yourself since my impressment, these many months past, and I wish I could simply walk up the path to the door of the kitchen with you to open it but I have taken the King’s Shilling and must do my duty or be flogged to the bone. In truth, I must not talk of this matter for they are hard task masters here, and would have the skin from my back for less.

Things have improved since my letter to the Doctor, that grand learned man, and I am no longer required to climb the masts to set sails as before. Instead, I have become the Wardroom Steward and serve the dinner to the lesser officers. Usually, this means I don’t have to go on deck where I might fall overboard or be washed away in storms as waves sweep over the ship! Being on the berthing deck, it is amongst the driest and warmest places aboard. But for the surprising events of this evening’s dinner, I would be as content as I could be away from my snug bed in Portsmouth.

It is my duty to bring the vittles and drink as the officers demand and at dinner this evening, I was about these tasks. There are three Lieutenants on Acasta and they and the Master would eat in the Wardroom together with the Surgeon and some of the senior warrant officers. As there is always a commissioned officer on duty, this was the 1st Officer’s watch and he was walking the quarterdeck. Another of the Lieutenants was a guest of the Captain, together with one of the Midshipmen and so, the remaining Lieutenant Ramsay and the sailing master MacLachlan and the Doctor and the purser were the seniors present, and one of the midshipmen too, as a guest of the Wardroom.

The plates for the food had been removed and the Lieutenant called for port for the toasts and I was as fast as I could be, producing the bottle. Glasses were filled and then the loyal toast was made. “The King!” and a curious thing happened. The Master, before he drank, passed his wine over a cup of water and then drank. The Lieutenant had seen this and became very angry. “You…!” he spluttered at the master and then, glared at me! “Why did not you remove the water from the table?” and the master, seeing that he had been observed, began to laugh. “Auld habits”, he said in a low voice and leans back, still smiling.

“You fool!” says the Lieutenant to me. “Do you not recollect the date?”

“No, Sir. Is there some significance to the date? Your birthday perhaps? Happy Birthday, Sir.” says I, as humbly and cheerfully as I can. I offer to fill his glass.

After another burst of laughter, the master, a Scot says “Come noo Ramsay! It was a lang time ago and the last o’ the Stuarts are lang dead. Leave off the puir mon, he’s scar’t white!”

“And you!” yells Lt. Ramsay! “What of your oath of loyalty?”

The master is now angry too.

“Loyalty? There’s none more so, but my grandfather and his eldest son were lost at Culloden Moor in ’46 and so I do this for my broken-hearted father, now passed.” He looked hard into his glass. “Toadie!” he calls to me.


“You’re to ensure the water is removed from the table before bringing out the port, aye?”

“Oh, yes Sir!” says I.

“That make ye happy, Ramsay?” and they all just sat in silence for the rest of the meal.

I admit to being completely baffled by this turn of events.

Otherwise, duty herein the Wardroom has been uneventful.

I will send this by the first ship that leaves for Halifax and you shall receive it soon. I wish I could follow it home.

Your ever faithful,


Friday, April 25

A Letter to the Captain

To: Captain Robert Freymann,
HMS Acasta,
On blockade duty off the coast of the United States

From: Captain Thomas Hurlbut
Royal Naval Dockyard,
Kingston, Upper Canada.

April 14, 1814.

Dear Captain Freymann,

This has been a banner day in Upper Canada with the launch of two ships, designed to wrest control of Lake Ontario from our counterparts on the American side of the lake. These are the largest ships ever seen on our inland seas and should give the superiority necessary to gain the upper hand in our conflict.

HMS Prince Regent is a spar-decked ship of 1293 and 50/94ths tons burthen, 155 feet and 10 inches between perpendiculars and a maximum breadth of 43 feet and 1 inch, making her nearly as large as the big American frigates. She will be armed with 28-24 pdrs on the upper deck with 4-68 pdr and 24-32 pdr carronades on the spar deck.

Shortly after Prince Regent was launched, a second ship slipped down the ways and HMS Princess Charlotte joined her large consort in Navy Bay. She is smaller, having been altered on the ways from a proposed transport, and measures 756 tons burthen, 121 feet between perpendiculars, with a breadth of 37 feet and 8 inches. She will be armed with 24-24 pdrs on the upper deck, with 2-68 pdr and 16-32 pdr carronades on quarterdeck and forecastle giving her a formidable broadside for a vessel of this size.

HMS Prince Regent
Both these ships are expected to be fully commissioned in a few weeks.

While the Americans have not been idle, they have been slow to start and their expected frigates are still far from completion. The ordnance for their ships comes from Oswego on the New York shoreline of Lake Ontario and must be transported to Sacket’s Harbour. If we can take the place and intercept the guns, then their ships will be toothless and no threat.

Sir James will hoist his broad pennant on Prince Regent and the newly posted Captain William Mulcaster will take command of the Charlotte. While no-one could complain that this deserving officer is unworthy, I confess to being disappointed at not being awarded a command. As new ships spring from the shipyards, so too do command officers arrive from Britain.

I shall continue to tell you of our struggles here in the interior as opportunities afford. The ice is out on the lower lakes and the battle will be renewed. Wish us good fortune as I do you.

Your Most Humble and Obedient Servant,

Thomas Hurlbut,
Captain, RN,
Upper Canada.

Thursday, April 24

Our Schedule

Where are the Acastas planning on being?


June 21-22  Battle of St. Leonard's Creek
Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum, Saint Leonard, MD.

July 18-19-20 Jane Austen Festival at Locust Grove 
Louisville, KY.

Aug 30-31 The Fair at New Boston (Press Gang)
at Springfield, Ohio 

Oct 10-12 Mississinewa 1812 (Red Box)
at Marion, Indiana 


Jan 6-11, 2015 200th Anniv. Battle of New Orleans
Chalmette Battlefield, New Orleans, Louisiana 

Wednesday, April 23

Tuesday, April 22

Open Call to Writers

Open Call to ALL Reenactors, 
Historians and Creative Writers!

The Royal Navy reenacting group that represents HMS Acasta will be attending the Jane Austen Festival in July of this year. One of the things that I'd like to be able to do is deliver a 'mail packet' full of letters to the various Acasta members. This is a project that I have undertaken in the past with other groups with awesome results.

This is where YOU come in!

Anyone who would like to submit a period correct letter to add to the packet is encouraged to do so! We'd love to have your contribution, however large or small! Anything added to the packet will help to enhance the historical experience for not only the Acastas who receive them, but for the public who will attend the Festival as well.

At last year's event, the Mail Packet was a huge hit with the Acastas and the public alike. Mr. Midshipman Raley delivered the packet to the Captain about mid-day on Saturday and the letters were passed out.

Some examples of things that we got as part of the project:

The Doctor got a secret coded message from Sir Joseph Blaine with the Admiralty. Obviously from a Patrick O'Brian fan.

Lt. Tumbusch got a notice from the Dutch East India Company letting him know that his stock was now worthless.

Rev. Mr. Griswold got a letter letting him know of the death of one of his parishioners.

Mr. Raley got a letter from his 'mother' back home written a professional author of nautical historical fiction.

A letter arrived for the Purser from a mysterious wife and children he claimed to know nothing of.

Capt. Freymann got a letter from a father in England looking for news of the location of his two sons.

Need some ideas for what to write? Try one of these:

Letter from a friend or colleague back home. 
(But none from 'family' this year if you please, last year we had to leave a letter out because Mr. Raley got TWO letters from his 'mother')
A bill or request for payment.
An overdue payment of debt.
A letter carrying news of the war(s)

Or, use the link below to see some other types of period letters:

The Complete Letter Writer...

Wondering what a period letter looks like? Here are some beautiful examples:

Contact me to find out where to send your finished letter… or questions, or for any other additional information.

Finshed letters will need to be to ME by the end of June so that they can find their way into the Mail Packet!

Don't know WHO to write to? Here's the lot of Acastas who are usually to be found at the festival:

So pick up your pen and paper and get writing, and HAVE FUN!

Friday, April 18

Post Labels

The eclectic band of historical reenactors and interpreters that makes up the 'CREW' of HMS Acasta spans a wide spectrum of real life occupations.

We are made up of students, educators, academics (a surprising number of us are teachers) even a Ph.D., present and former Coast Guard and U.S. Naval men, artists & artisans, tailors, musicians, professionals & executives. We even have a freelance copywriter, farrier & presidential presenter thrown into the mix for good measure! (hint: look for the fellow that looks like Jackson from the twenty dollar bill!)

What does this odd lot all have in common? A love for the history of the Royal Navy and passing it on in a unique way to the public.

You can find specific content by following the labels at the bottoms of each day's posts, or by clicking on the links below, the NEW labels are highlighted in YELLOW:

200th - Posts with this label are posts that have to do with the 200th anniversary of some event that took place during the War of 1812. Either with the Acasta herself, or the war in general. Want to know what was happening on a particular date? Here you go.

Apple - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's carpenter Mr. Jas. Apple.

Baptiste - Posts with this label are either written BY or about the Acasta Surgeon's Mate.

Capt Freymann - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's Captain Robert Freymann

Capt Hurlbut -  Posts with this label are either written BY or about Captain Tom Hurlbut, friend to the Acasta.

Event Invite - These posts are invitations to the general public to attend specific historic events. A great way to figure out where the Acasta crew will be during the year!

Images - This label is given to any post that is picture heavy. Looking for lots of awesome War of 1812 or Royal Navy recreation pictures? Look no further! The Acasta has been gifted with some amazing photography over the years from a variety of sources.

Jane Austen Festival - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Jane Austen Festival that is held every July in Louisville, KY.

LIST - This label is given to the series of reenactor list, Ways to improve, the best and worst things about the hobby, stupid questions asked by the public and so forth.

Lt Ramsey - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's Second Lieutenant Michael Ramsey.

Lt. Hamilton - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's First Lieutenant Jim Hamilton.

Lt. Tumbusch - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's Third Lieutenant Tom Tumbusch.

Master & Commander - Posts that have to do with the Aubrey-Maturin series of books by author Patrick O'Brian or the 2003 movie.

Mail Packet - This label will involve letters (real or digital) sent or received by Acasta crew. It also occasionally has to do with a call to readers for letters, a fun project for authors and historians alike!

Midshipman Raley - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta Midshipman David Raley.

Miscellany - A grab bag of odds and ends posts that couldn't really be labeled anything else.

Mission 1 - All posts pertain to the Acasta's first play test of the "Spy Game", a first person activity played between teams at Mississinewa 1812.

Mission 2 - A writing exercise by members of the crew involving the 1813 chase of the US vessel, 'Young Teazer'

Mission 3 - These posts involve the Doctor's special assignment to take part in a mock Naval assault at Niagara on the Lake.

Mission 4 - The Acastas go ashore at the Fair at New Boston in an attempt to catch a spy, and the Doctor gets engaged!

Mississinewa 1812 - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Mississinewa 1812 event that is held every October in Marion, IN.

Music - Music or lyrics (or both) to old period songs.

New Boston - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Fair at New Boston event that is held every Labor Day Weekend near Springfield, Ohio.

Press Gang - Content and images from the Acasta's Press Ganging activities at events.

Red Box - Content and images having to do with the "Red Box' game.

Signal Flags - These posts involve images and information having to do with this means of communication during the War of 1812. Sometimes they even involve fun messages to be decoded!

The Doctor - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's surgeon Albert Roberts

Toasts - information pertaining to the Daily Royal Naval Toasts given at dinner.

Vassermann - Posts with this label are either written BY or about the Surgeon's personal servant James Vassermann.

Video - Any post with a video or a link to a video in it can be found here.

Wedding - These image heavy posts are all about the Doctor's 1813 style wedding.